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2004 World Junior Championship
The 2004 World Junior Championship was the 21st World Junior Championship. It was held in Taiwan from September 3 through September 12, 2004. 11 nations competed in a tournament plagued by heavy rains that canceled both the quarterfinals and semifinals. Except for Team USA, all individual statistics listed below are for the round-robin phase only.
Cuba won its 11th Gold Medal and second in a row, going 6-0 and beating Japan 4-0 in the Gold Medal game. They outscored opponents 45-7. They had several All-Stars in P Yadier Pedroso (2-0, 0.50), P Alain Sanchez (1-0, 1.35), 2B Yoilán Cerce (.407/.448/.815, 4 triples, 7 RBI), DH Oscar Mesa (.368/.458/.632, the leader with 8 RBI) and 3B Adalberto Ibarra (.429/.500/.571). Also leading the tourney in different departments were CF Alfredo Despaigne (.263/.400/.526, the leader with 8 runs) and P Elier Sanchez (1-0, 0.00, 18 K in 10 IP). Pedroso was named MVP.
Japan was 4-1 and had a 28-13 run differential. 2B Syunji Sato (.455/.500/.455) was the lone All-Star. Kenta Ogura (2-0, 1.00) had the best ERA. Two of the worse hurlers would be among the most prominent players from the team within a couple years - Yu Darvish (0-1, 7.11) and Hideaki Wakui (1-0, 3.12). It was surprisingly only the second medal won by Japan in the history of the Championship and the first in 22 years.
South Korea finished 5-1 with a 44-12 run differential and won Bronze for the first time (they had previously won 3 Golds in the WJC but never a Silver or Bronze). Ji-soo Kim was both the All-Star SS and the Outstanding Defensive Player of the event; he hit .458/.500/.500 and made no errors in 22 chances. Ki-joo Han (1-0, 1.59) led the event with 22 strikeouts.
The USA was 3-2 and outscored opponents 28-24. They lost 10-5 in the Bronze Medal game, snapping a 20-year run of winning Medals in World Junior competitions. The top performer was SS Justin Upton (.417, 8 R, 4 3B). The team was loaded with players who would be first-round draft picks or college stars within a couple years, such as Andrew McCutchen (.133), Buster Posey (0-1, 1.23) and Kyle Russell (.368, 8 RBI). The US had no All-Stars in the tourney.
Taiwan finished 5th at 2-2 despite a 27-9 run differential. They lost to Japan by 3 and 2-1 to the USA. RF Yuan-Chin Chu (.417/.462/.583) made the All-Star outfield.
Italy (2-3, 16 R, 24 RA), Panama (2-3, 25, 30) and Australia (2-3, 24, 26) tied for 6th. Italy had an All-Star OF in Andrea Santolupo (.333/.455/.389) and Australia had an All-Star OF, Ryan McMillan (.389/.450/.556). Australia's Josh Roberts and Santolupo tied Ji-soo Kim for the lead with 3 steals.
The Netherlands was 9th at 1-3 with a 11-23 run margin. One bright spot was DH Jason Halman, who hit .467/.500/.600 and led the Championship in batting average.
Tying for last were Germany (0-4, 9 R, 43 RA) and South Africa (0-5, 2, 48). Germany did have the tournament's All-Star catcher, Kai Gronauer, who hit .385/.429/.538 and threw out three of five attempted base-stealers; he also pitched a scoreless inning.
Sources: Defunct IBAF site, 2005 Baseball Almanac
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